Polio Working Group

University of Pittsburgh

Donald S. Burke, MD

Donald S. Burke, MDDr. Burke is Dean of the Graduate School of Public Health, Director of the Center for Vaccine Research, and Associate Vice Chancellor for Global Health at the University of Pittsburgh. He is also first occupant of the UPMC-Jonas Salk Chair in Global Health. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Dr. Burke received his BA from Western Reserve University and his MD from Harvard Medical School. He was an intern and resident in medicine at Boston City and Massachusetts General Hospitals and trained as a research fellow in infectious diseases at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He has studied prevention and control of infectious diseases of global concern, including HIV/AIDS, influenza, dengue, and emerging infectious diseases. He has lived six years in Thailand, worked extensively in Cameroon, and conducted field epidemiology studies in numerous other developing countries. Most recently he has led a transdisciplinary team that develops computational models and simulations of epidemic infectious diseases and uses these simulations to evaluate prevention and control strategies.


John J. Grefenstette, PhD

John J. Grefenstette, PhDDr. Grefenstette is the Director of the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory and Professor of Biostatistics in the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh. He previously served as Professor and Chair of the Department of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology and Assistant Dean for the School of Computational Sciences at George Mason University, and as Head of the Machine Learning Section at the Navy Center for Applied Research in Artificial Intelligence at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. Dr. Grefenstette's research activities span many areas on the boundary between computation and biology, including modeling and simulation of infectious diseases, public health databases, data mining, evolutionary algorithms, machine learning, computational models of biological networks, and high-performance computing applications to public health. His current major projects include the University of Pittsburgh's National Center of Excellence for Models of Infectious Diseases Agent Study (MIDAS), funded by NIH/NIGMS, and the Vaccine Modeling Initiative, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Grefenstette was the founding Associate Editor for the journal Evolutionary Computation, serves on the editorial board for the journal Adaptive Behavior and has been Associate Editor for the journal Machine Learning. Dr. Grefenstette received his BS in Mathematics and Philosophy from Carnegie Mellon University and his PhD in Computer Science from the University of Pittsburgh. In 2010, Dr. Grefenstette was honored with the Evolutionary Computation Pioneer Award from the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society.


Supriya Kumar, PhD, MPH

Supriya Kumar, PhD, MPHDr. Kumar is a postdoctoral associate at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. She did a PhD in Biological Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University and an MPH in Behavioral and Community Health Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh before undertaking postdoctoral research on the social determinants of health behaviors during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. She studies the impact of access to resources on health behaviors. During the pandemic, she used social ecological theory to examine the correlates of vaccine uptake and voluntary social distancing behavior. Since then, she has focused on the impact of workplace policy on voluntary social distancing and the influenza attack rate in workplaces. She has also studied the impact of access to health care facilities on vaccination status in Niger and in the US. She has recently been involved with designing a network model of information flow in the context of polio surveillance.

Wilbert van Panhuis, MD, PhD

Wilbert van Panhuis, MD, PhDWilbert van Panhuis, MD, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and a faculty member of the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. The goal of my work is to accelerate the efficient use of data in public health. Vast amounts of data are collected daily in various domains including biomedicine, public health, demography, climate sciences, etc. that could be used to improve public health. Unfortunately, various barriers limit the use of these data including technical challenges but also political, economic, and ethical issues. My research projects aim to break through these barriers by: 1) building prototype data systems to demonstrate value, 2) conducting data intensive applied public health research, and 3) advance policies and guidelines on the use of data in public health. Our current prototype data system is Project Tycho that unlocked 125 years of newly digitized weekly US disease surveillance data for science and policy (NEJM, New York Times, Washington Post, Scientific American). Data intensive applied research projects include agent-based simulations of vector-borne (dengue, chikungunya) and vaccine preventable diseases (pertussis resurgence), and quantifying the impact of routine childhood immunization programs. On the policy end, we are working towards a global process to systematically find solutions to advance the use of data in public health (BMC Public Health, Chatham House report). We are advancing the use of traditional data in public health, such as disease surveillance data, but are also exploring the value of novel data such as electronic medical and laboratory records. For all projects, I work in partnership with health agencies and academics at the global, national, and local level across the world including the World Health Organization, Ministries of Health in Southeast Asia and Latin America, and the US Centers for Disease Control.

Kevin J.S. Zollman, PhD

Kevin J.S. Zollman, PhDDr. Zollman is an assistant professor of philosophy at Carnegie Mellon University. His research focuses on mathematical and computer simulation models of social behavior in humans and other animals. Among other things, he employs these models to understand how scientists are able to effectively organize themselves in order to learn about the world. He has published papers in journals spanning a number of fields including Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, International Journal of Game Theory, and Philosophy of Science.

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